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Seeking Whom He May Devour: Chief Inspector Adamsberg Investigates (Chief Inspector Adamsberg Mysteries (Paperback)) Paperback – November 7, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Admirers of quirky, atmospheric whodunits will revel in Vargas's creative second mystery featuring Chief Insp. Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg (after 2005's Have Mercy on Us All). A series of savage attacks on sheep leaves the countryside near the French Alps gripped in superstitious fear, as locals suspect that an unnatural creature resembling the legendary Beast of Gévaudan is responsible. The inspector, keeping a low profile to protect himself from a would-be assassin, is drawn into the mystery after the killer turns to human prey, starting with a woman who has suggested that a werewolf was at large. While the abundance of fair-play clues (and the absence of a large pool of suspects) will enable most experienced genre readers to anticipate the solution, the unusual cast of characters and off-beat humor should help Vargas win new fans. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The second Chief Inspector Adamsberg mystery to appear in the U.S. draws on the same mix of cozy characters and dark mystery that drove last year's Have Mercy on Us All. The focus this time is divided among Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg, the Maigret-like chief inspector with the French police nationale, and his former lover, Camille, who left Adamsberg at the end of the previous novel and is now living in a small village in the Alps. Trouble starts when it appears that a very large wolf is attacking sheep; then a woman is also killed, and rumors about werewolves begin to spread. Camille and two of the dead woman's friends are convinced the culprit is a man, not a wolf, and set off to trap him. Reluctantly, Camille agrees to call Adamsberg for help, and this merry band of eccentrics careens through the French Alps, their circuitous route suggesting Adamsberg's inimitable investigative technique: "an unending kaleidoscope of hunches and surmises that inexplicably gave rise to undeniably first-rate results." This is one of those rare series that will please both cozy fans and hard-boiled types. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
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Product Details

  • Series: Chief Inspector Adamsberg Mysteries (Paperback)
  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Simon and Schuster Paperback Editi edition (November 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074328402X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743284028
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lucinda Surber on December 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Seeking Whom He May Devour (French 1999, English 2004) is set in the French Alps. The villagers at first believe a rogue wolf is responsible for some sheep savagings, but when a woman is killed in the same manner, rumors of a werewolf begin to circulate. Soliman, the woman's young adopted son, Watchee, her ancient head shepherd, and Camille, a young musician recruited to drive the sheep lorry, head out in pursuit of a loner who disappears immediately after the murder. When the trio realize they are in over their heads, Camille contacts her old friend Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg for assistance. The solution of the mystery is clever and unexpected, but the true charm of this book is the eccentric road trip which brings together four vivid and unique personalities: Soliman creates fables to explain reality, Camille reads The A to Z of Tools for Trade and Craft for relaxation, Watchee lives and breathes sheep, and Adamsberg floats in a cloud of intuition, waiting for the facts to settle into an understandable pattern.
[...]
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One lost opportunity in the book finds the author does not provide much descriptive narrative to travels through the French Alps - the scenery, the villages, so much more could be said to make the trip interesting.
An opportunity to explore the depths of the cast of assembled quirky characters of Soliman, Watchee and all the villagers we meet along the way is overlooked.
The overall pace of the book is slow. Interactions between characters are often too long, extended beyond the value to the story. The book could be more suspenseful, more menacing with the addition of insight into the superstitions of the mountains which would provide more interesting and compelling narrative.
Adamsberg is only involved in less than half of the book. He makes an appearance in the last half of the book. His role is limited and without his entourage including Danglard. But, of course, he solves the mystery of the murder in a clever, interesting solution which helps redeem the other disappointments and missed opportunities in the book.
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The 2nd Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg mystery. In the French Alps, multiple sheep are being found with their throats torn out. The evidence points to an unusually large wolf. Then people begin to die. One of the villagers, remarkably, thinks that it might be a werewolf. After she is murdered, a motley cast of village characters, after finding what appears to be a murder map, set out to intercept the killer.

The murdered woman's adopted son, an old shepherd, and Camille soon find themselves over their heads. They call upon Inspector Adamsberg to help. He possesses exceptional powers of intuition and a courageous spirit. He is also Camille's former boyfriend who has been replaced by a tall, handsome, and capable Canadian, an expert in tracking wolves. This is a fine, well-written story.
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I believe this book probably deserves 4 stars, however, the translation is so bad I can only speculate. The translator has opted to use out of date British slang and idioms to relate the character and flavor of vargas's work. This book was published in 1999- even then, "old chap" was no longer used in England as a common form of address. A "jotter" may be a word used for "notebook" in the UK, but the English language is used in many more countries, so choosing to use "jotter" for what was probably "cahier" in French is just a mystery to me... As another review says, the jokes constantly fell flat and the problem is the garbled English! I think Vargas wrote several poetic things, because some did make it through the rotten translation, but I would have liked to have read them all, not just those that squeaked by.
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I always enjoy Fred Vargas because her writing puts you in another environment. I'm always less interested in who the killer is, the plot, than I am the writer's ability to transport the reader and thereby provide an escape from daily life. Fred does this well with her quirky books. I've read several, and will probably read them all eventually - that is if I can find all of them. At least one title is only available from outside vendors. I don't know if she's still writing. I hope so. I'd like to find that out.
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Format: Paperback
This is the second of a 9-part series of police procedurals about Paris police commissioner Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg J-BA), who hails from the Pyrenees. In France, regional pride matters and so does rivalry between police and the gendarmerie. Anyone from Paris investigating regional crime faces a degree of hostility and indifference from local law enforcement. But J-BA is a demure, hardly visible 1.71m tall investigator, who shares information, asks lots of questions. He is not pushy or barking orders. And most of his provincial colleagues, aware of his reputation and record, are helpful.
This thriller starts in the French Alps when sheep are found dead, their throats crushed and eaten by what? A pack of wolves (the region has 40 of them, carefully monitored by e.g. the Canadian guest researcher Lawrence), or by a single wolf with huge jaws? When Suzanne, a sheep farmer, is found dead with identical wounds, ancient stories about werewolves re-emerge. All gossip points to a lone male who returned six years earlier after 20 years of absence, who works as a butcher in the region's abattoir. And he is missing. A map is found in his mountain shack with thin crosses confirming with the sites of wolf attacks, and a trail of country roads leading to Manchester, UK, where he is rumored to have a relative. His Great Dane dog, climbing equipment, car and cash are also missing...
How this evolves is for readers to discover. J-BA and his muse Camille also meet again. Good police procedural. Good atmosphere. Nice characters. Nice book. Great series!
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